New overseas signing Luke Ronchi was barely needed as the cider county restricted Middlesex to 171 on a good batting surface before chasing down their target with two overs and nine wickets to spare.
Missing key batsman Dawid Malan through injury, Middlesex started like a train, with former Somerset man Nick Compton and Paul Stirling bludgeoning 34 from the first two overs. The second over, delivered by Jamie Overton, went for 22 including two sixes and two fours (one edged through the vacant slip region), all by Stirling.
But Tim Groenewald, playing his first t20 of the season, got rid of Compton (10) with the third ball of his first over; Alfonso Thomas with the catch at mid-off. New batsman John Simpson struck a four first ball, before Abdur Rehman pulled back some momentum by bowling an over which only conceded two runs.
Groenewald then proceeded to take the big wicket of Stirling, who averaged 57 in this tournament before this game. Ronchi took his first catch as Somerset ‘keeper as the Irishman was dismissed for 29 (16 balls, 3×4, 2×6). That over went for only two, and Thomas finished off the powerplay well by conceding just three from his first over.
Middlesex were 58 for 2, and Eoin Morgan and Simpson mainly looked for singles in the next two overs. With the introduction of Max Waller, however, Simpson released the shackles with successive sixes.
With Morgan coming in off the back of the New Zealand one-day series, where he averaged 64, Somerset would have been fearful of the England limited overs captain reducing their attack to rubble. But, going for a big shot off Waller, he was caught by Peter Trego a yard inside the long-on boundary for 7.
Rehman bowled another tight over, before Overton came back well from his awful start by taking the wicket of Franklin for 7 (caught by Tom Cooper at long-off) and surrendering just five runs from his second over.
Rehman then completed an excellent spell of 4-0-19-0, and will hope it is a sign of things to come after a mediocre start to the season. Andrew Balbirnie struck the only boundary to come off Rehman’s bowling. He also hit successive fours off Thomas before departing for a useful cameo of 17 (12 balls, 3×4), with the Waller-Trego combination striking again.
No batsman was able to stay for a significant period alongside the vigilant Simpson, with Ryan Higgins falling next for 3 after losing his middle stump to Overton. The fast bowler, who was blasted for 22 from his first over, had conceded the same number from his next three while taking two wickets.
With three overs remaining, Middlesex were 140 for 6 and relying on Simpson to take them to a competitive target at a high-scoring ground. Thomas returned and conceded eight from his third over, before Groenewald was hit for four by Simpson. However, he bowled Ollie Rayner (5) with his final delivery.
Thomas took the ball for the final over of the innings, and was smashed for six first ball by Simpson. A dot ball followed, then four twos to finish the innings. Simpson finished with an excellent 84 (51 balls, 6×4, 3×6), but a lack of substantial support meant that Middlesex concluded on a below-par 171 for 7. Somerset’s bowling was again excellent, and much improved on some of the campaign’s earlier showings. Groenewald was the pick with 4-0-27-3.
Johann Myburgh, who scored 63 against Gloucestershire last Friday, hit three fours off the first over of the reply from Kyle Abbott after a wide. Offspinner Ollie Rayner opened up from the other end, and Jim Allenby struck his first delivery for four. He hit three more from Abbott’s second over, and Somerset were 32 without loss from three.
The opening pair continued to find the gaps, with three more fours off Franklin’s first over. Allenby, who had survived a huge run out appeal, slammed the first six of the innings off slow left armer Ravi Patel, then the second off Rayner. It was quickly becoming apparent that Middlesex’s score was nowhere near enough.
The pair continued to knock singles and hit boundaries off the spinners, and the century partnership came up in the eleventh over. On 118, Myburgh, who had earlier been dropped by James Harris, became the only Somerset wicket to fall when he was bowled by Franklin for 53 (45 balls, 8×4).
New batsman Peter Trego carried on where Myburgh left off, with both he and Allenby striking sixes off Patel’s final over. With the required run rate dropping rapidly, the pair continued to hit boundaries and rotate the strike, before Trego finished the match with a six off Stirling’s offspin. Allenby finished with 89 from just 51 balls (9×4, 4×6), while Trego smashed a quick 28 from 12 balls (2×4, 2×6).
Allenby, who was man of the match, said after the game, “We needed to win tonight and it keeps up our momentum. We feel like we are a team in form at the moment, in all competitions, and we have players in form too.
“Great credit should go to Matt Maynard who has baked the players to perform all along. We did not have the best of starts to the season, but I don’t think we were ever in a panic. We just kept on working hard and we knew we would get better results.
“The South group is by far the more difficult group and this pitch was unbelievably good, with a fast outfield and short boundaries. We were not 100 percent sure at halfway that we had kept them down to a total that was achievable, but we were confident and with wickets in hand we knew that our depth in batting would give us every chance.”
Middlesex’s Patel said, “It didn’t go to plan, and we didn’t perform as we know we can. John Simpson played brilliantly, though. He’s relished the opportunity of going up the order in t20 this season, but, overall, we didn’t get enough runs on that pitch.”
After the conclusion of all the evening’s matches, Somerset sit 5th in the South Group with 9 points and a game in hand over most teams. They will look to keep the momentum going at home to Glamorgan on Sunday. Middlesex, traditionally poor in t20, are bottom and face a struggle to qualify.